For ages man has feared the dark. Learn that he has a right to, especially the shadows of his own soul.
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Itís snowing outside.
I hate the snow. I have since I was a small boy. I have since the year that my father died in 1985. I was eleven at the time.
My wife is calling me to come look out the window. She says the snow is beautiful. Iím afraid to look out the window. Iím afraid that heíll be out there. The snow just started falling an hour or two ago, but as the night lingers the storm is really suppose to hit. As the snow piles up, the stronger heíll be. My wife calls again, but my attention is focused on the weather woman on the television screen. She is smiling as she points to a prompted screen that shows a massive arch of clouds sweeping in from Canada, and colliding with a smaller front just west of us. The two storms combined will form one. Theyíre calling it the worst blizzard since 1985. They say that weíll receive close to thirty inches of accumulation within the next twenty-four to forty-eight hours. She can smile all she wants, but the news of the storm is like a kick in the groin to me.
If it were up to me all the doors in the house would be locked and the window shades drawn. My wife and I would crawl into bed and let heaven fall from the sky, blanketing the world in a frosty casing of white crystal. We would make love and sleep until the whole ordeal was over, and all the snow was gone.
What we wouldnít do is go outside.
Iím afraid that she wonít go for that. She doesnít understand my fear. Thatís because I never explained it to her, never even mentioned it.
ďHoney come look,Ē Jessica says, adding ďPlease.Ē
I am not one to deny what my wife wants, but it feels like I have a hundred pound weight in my ass, holding me in my seat. When she pleads again, I go, although be it reluctantly. I can feel a cold sweat on my brow and under my arms. I can feel my mind quivering at the memory of my lost father. I loved the man dearly. He was my best friend. My love for him mixed with the circumstance of his death makes my memory bittersweet.
It bothers me.
Because of that, Iím afraid to look out the window into the falling snow.
Iím afraid of him.
ďHoney come look,Ē Jessica says as I mount the steps and enter the living room. She canít feel my nerves rattling, or hear my heart beating like a jackrabbit caught in a snare. To her the snow is wonderful. To me itís a bad dream that I have never woken from.
Jessica (in all her splendor) is standing in front of the picture window in the living room. It looks out over the front yard and down to the street. Itís just beginning to turn dark. When I see her face reflected softly in the window by the hue of the lamp, I am reminded of my mother. Iím reminded of the storm of eighty-five and how my mother stood in front of another picture window in another house and called to father and I to come watch the snow fall. I can almost smell the old furniture polish (a strange combination of lemon and pine) she used back then as I cross the room towards my wife.
ďCome see, honey.Ē Sheís waving me over towards the window. Her lips move again, but I hear my motherís voice from days past.
ďCome on, you lugs. Come watch it while its still fresh. That game will still be on when you get back.Ē
I swallow hard, trying to disguise the anxious act from my wife as I snuggle in behind her. She is warm against my body, and I try to take comfort in that.
Outside small white swarms of snow fall from the sky. The ground is covered, and I feel my stomach try to escape through my throat. I hate the snow. Wrapping my arms around my wife, I close my eyes, hoping that she wonít notice how very unnerved I am.
ďIsnít it beautiful?Ē she says, and I answer in agreement. It is not beautiful, though. Itís the backdrop for every nightmare that Iíve had since I was eleven. Jessica twists in my arms.
ďYou arenít even looking, silly,Ē she says in a playful voice. I want to share her joy, but I canít.
ďOh, Iím not,Ē I reply, trying to act aloof.
She places the back of her hand against my cheek. I close my eyes and lean into her touch. ďAre you okay? You look a little flushed.Ē
I open my eyes, and fill my vision with her face. I am marveled by the look of girlish innocence displayed there. Donít you know, I want to scream at her, but she would have no idea of what I meant. She doesnít know about the Snow Man. Thatís what I labeled him back then for lack of a better term.
The Snow Man.
I really didnít know what he was, and thatís all my young brain could come up with. It seemed like a logical fit. The only time I ever actually saw him was during that blizzard in eighty-five, but I know that he is still out there somewhere. I canít tell you much about him, but after many years of turmoil I know a few things for certain.
He comes with and grows strength from the snow, and he looks like a man. What he actually is I am still not sure
Jessica turns back around in my arms, and in that insist I look at the snow. I tell myself that there isnít enough snow yet for him to come. Somehow I know that he needs the snow for energy. How I ever derived this for certain, I donít know, but the idea is fixed in my mind, unyielding. No, there isnít a lot of snow yet, but there will be soon enough. Thirty inches. Thatís more than we got in eighty-five. We got twenty then.
ďIts so peaceful,Ē Jessica says, and I squeeze her lovingly. In my head I tell myself that I am just showing her the affection that a loving husband should when his wife and he are looking at something seemingly romantic like a fresh snowfall. Deep inside I know that I am clinging to her, using her as a shield to protect me against my fear.
I let my eyes flow over the landscape. The houses across the street have the lights on, and the snow falls without hesitation. Upon first glance I see nothing that should haunt me. My wife is right. It is beautiful, and my mind relaxes a notch.
Then the wind blows.
I see it, but my wife doesnít, much like my father had seen it and my mother hadnít. Most people wonít see it. They donít know to look for it, or even that he exists. I know better. I am looking. When the wind blows again, I know where to watch, even though my terror tells me not to. I have to see. I have to know if it was just a cruel trick of my mind.
I donít have to wait long before the wind sends the falling flakes scurrying sideways, and there he is at the bottom of my driveway. Itís just an indifferent outline etched by the drifting snow in the air, but I catch the curve of a shoulder, and the straight flank of a leg outlined for the briefest of seconds by the blowing wind.
ďSometimes you just need to look death in the face before you can manage to truly live life for what its worth. You go do that, and youíll learn that life is all about those cheap little thrills. Itís all about watching some young thing display what God give her. Itís all about that last sip of beer you drink, or that last bite of food. Itís about getting your blood to boil even if itís for the briefest of seconds. It letís you know that your still kickiní. Cheap thrills, my friend.Ē